IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Trump White House to investigate U.S. military assessment that global warming is a national security threat; India to curtail water to Pakistan; Iceberg twice the size of Manhattan set to break off Antarctica; PLUS: Kids around the world are protesting and striking for action on climate change... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The hard lessons of Dianne Feinstein's encounter with the young Green New Deal activists; If climate change makes the clouds disappear, we're screwed; Today's Earth looks a lot like it did 115,000 years ago, except for the massive sea level rise; The New Black? The making of the "Green" stereotype; Hurricanes are strengthening faster in the Atlantic, and climate change is a big reason why; Evidence for man-made global warming hits 'gold standard'; Coal plant crisis in South Africa raises concerns about stranded assets; Plastics: The New Coal in Appalachia?... PLUS: Consumers' use of toilet paper wiping out habitat, heating planet, report says... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Whistleblower says EPA chief Scott Pruitt kept secret calendar to hide industry meetings; Minnesota regulators approve controversial new tar sands pipeline; Record overnight heat temperatures in Oman, drought-fueled riots in Iran; PLUS: Rhode Island becomes first U.S. state to sue fossil fuel companies for knowingly contributing to climate change... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Big Oil, utilities are lining up for an electric vehicle war; China carbon emissions in retreat after 'structural break' in economy; China carbon emissions in retreat after 'structural break' in economy; Solar is saving low-income households money in Colorado, and could be a national model; Alaska Gov. Walker urges suspension of Pebble Mine project; U.S. Navy is taking climate change seriously; Seattle becomes first major U.S. city to ban straws; Mexico’s new president promises more nationalistic energy approach; China has refused to recycle the West's plastics. What now? ... PLUS: Decarbonizing the not so low hanging fruit... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hundreds dead in massive Sierra Leone mudslide triggered by torrential rains; This year's Gulf of Mexico dead zone is largest on record; 124 degrees for ten days straight in Iraq, as scientists warn 'super heat waves' to get more frequent across globe; Fossil fuel industry gets $5 trillion in subsidies per year; PLUS: It's not your imagination, Florida --- sea levels really are rising faster in the Southeast... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Fast-melting Arctic an ominous sign'; Global warming explodes devastating larch beetle population; Exxon refinery still pumping toxins into black community in Texas; Trump EPA polluter fines drop 60%; Alaskan towns face rising seas as Trump Admin cancels federal help; EPA Pruitt carrying out his deregulatory agenda in secret; US and Mexico finalize CO River water deal; Houston is missing the next energy revolution; UT counties testing 'molten salt' nuclear power ... PLUS: The West's latest mining frenzy is over 'extraterrestrial' gold.... and much, MUCH more! ...
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On the day after Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. presentation of inaccurate information concerning Iraqi WMD and alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, a group of high-ranking, former intelligence agency veterans and whistleblowers calling themselves Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), published their very first "VIPS Memo" to George W. Bush.
In their February 5, 2003 memo [PDF], the former intelligence professionals warned of the politicization of intelligence used by the Administration in their case for war, and cautioned against rushing into military action. They were, of course, ignored by Bush at the time.
A full decade, trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of dead bodies later, here we are again, as a President of the United States continues his call for U.S. involvement in yet another military excursion in the Middle East based on a "just trust us" public assessment of purported classified evidence.
Repeating the course they took in hopes of warning Bush after Powell's UN presentation, last week VIPS published another warning in the form of a memo to President Barack Obama, warning that his advisers may not be keeping him fully informed and asserting, among other things, "the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21."
While the VIPS memo presents a disturbing alleged scenario detailing claims that U.S. allies and intelligence officials had advanced knowledge of the August 21 chemical attack, like the White House claims, the VIPS scenario offers little more than serious, if unproven allegations unless and until they are substantiated, or refuted, by hard evidence or, preferably, a Congressional investigation including full immunity for the sources cited by the former intelligence veterans...
In "Plumbing the Depths of Lawless Executive Depravity", I argued that targeted assassinations threaten the very foundation of our republic. This occurs not only due to the potential for collateral damage but due to the distinct possibility that many whom we target as "suspected" terrorists may be entirely innocent.
These two articles, and former CIA field operative Robert Baer, in a must-see RethinkAfganistan.com video (embedded at end of this article), assume the targets of the drone strike are suspected insurgents and terrorists. Both of them deal with the counterproductive effect of unintended civilian deaths ("collateral damage") which serves to destabilize "friendly" governments, provide a recruiting tool for those bent on revenge, and increase the likelihood of "blowback," a CIA term that describes "the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people."
Have Baer and I erred in assuming these strikes are not aimed at civilians?...
"Somehow this madness must cease."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Beyond Vietnam" April 4, 1967.
In Beyond Afghanistan, I utilized Dr King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech to deconstruct the empty words used by our Harvard-educated President during a December 1, 2009, address in which he sought to justify an escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
I noted then that President Barack Obama deliberately conflated the Taliban with al Qaeda just as "President" George W. Bush conflated Saddam with al Qaeda to exploit the fear and anger engendered by 9/11. Robert Scheer revealed, in War of Absurdity that there were, at that time, less than 100 members of al Qaeda still inside Afghanistan, who, per General James Jones, did not retain the "ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies." I added:
To defeat the ignoble 100, the U.S. is rapidly building toward an in-country presence of 100,000 American troops at a cost of $100 billion per year. NATO will also add 7,000 more troops, bringing a combined total to 140,000 foreign occupiers to that impoverished nation. To this, add some 104,000 "private contractors" aka armed mercenaries, who are paid more than three times the amount received by American troops.
Earlier, I posted a five part series on the more than 50-year history of CIA torture. In Part III, citing Victor Marchetti's heavily redacted The CIA & The Cult of Intelligence, I reported on how the CIA's William Colby constructed interrogation centers whose [emphasis added] “operations…consisted of torture tactics against suspected Vietcong…usually carried out by Vietnamese nationals”; that this morphed into the infamous Phoenix torture, then kill and dump program, in which an estimated 46,000 Vietnamese lost their lives; that General Petreus suggested that the Phoenix Program be reinstated on a “global scale.”
Our current crop of military and political leaders inside the Bush and Obama administrations have erected an elaborate deception as they carry out wars of imperial conquest and war crimes, including targeted killings of suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, just as our past military and political leaders in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations erected an elaborate deception to justify the quagmire in Southeast Asia a generation ago...
Had Marcy Winograd simply chosen to denounce violence, both individual and state-based; had she objected to the oppressive nature of Iran's theocratic regime, or, during the 1980s, denounced a South African regime mired in racist apartheid, few would so much as raise an eyebrow.
Winograd's Feb. 15, 2008, speech, "Call For One State," delivered at the Friends of Sabeel Conference on behalf of L.A. Jews for Peace, however, was not merely directed against violence per se or against nations that permit a disparity in the rights of their citizens on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion. She denounced all forms of violence, including "Israeli state terrorism"; asserted that Israel had rendered a two-state solution all but impossible, and said she favored a "one state solution" because you "cannot establish a democracy in a state founded on the institutionalized superiority or exclusivity of one of religion, ethnicity, or culture."
In doing so, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)-endorsed Winograd, now seeking to unseat a wealthy seven-term 'Blue Dog' Democrat, Jane Harman (D-CA36), touched what many see as a third rail in American politics.
The real question is whether American criticism of Israel should continue to be a political third rail or whether the courage to challenge "the bipartisan mainstream" consensus is long overdue...
I directed readers’ attention to King’s assessment that our obsession with war and occupation was but a symptom of “a far deeper malady within the American spirit;" that our presence in Afghanistan and so many other conflicts over the past 60 years was not the product of a desire to insure our safety; that it was the product of a military-industrial complex and a U.S.-led, corporate Empire whose core purpose is to feed the insatiable greed of the privileged few.
In the short time since I wrote “Beyond Afghanistan,” we have witnessed an expansion of the absurd...
"Somehow this madness must cease."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Beyond Vietnam" April 4, 1967.
On Jan. 18, 2010 our nation will observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, commemorating the extraordinary life of an intellectual and moral giant. The corporate media will fill the airwaves with excerpts of his uplifting August 28, 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech in which Dr. King called upon us to judge one another by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin. And, during that same holiday, the corporate media can be counted upon to ignore his April 4, 1967 "Beyond Vietnam" speech just as they have every year since the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1986.
Why? Because the egalitarian principles enunciated in "I Have a Dream" challenged only the now (largely) defunct Jim Crow regime.
While de facto, race-based economic inequality stubbornly remains as a vestige of slavery and Jim Crow, the elimination of de jure segregation posed no threat to the stark economic inequality created by an increasingly brutal form of U.S. capitalism and imperialism. It was the brutal reality of corporate Empire which led Dr. King, in "Beyond Vietnam," to describe his own government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" --- a point which exposes the hypocrisy in that same government's celebration of the life of a man singularly devoted to non-violence.
If you have not read "Beyond Vietnam" in its entirety, you should. If you have, you should read it again, for Dr. King's message is as applicable today as it was then.
Particularly, as we deconstruct the empty words used by our Harvard-educated President to justify an escalation of what Robert Scheer aptly describes as a "War of Absurdity," and as we look "Beyond Afghanistan"...
"We pick up a suspect or we arrange for one of our partner countries to do it. Then the suspect is placed on a civilian transport to a third country where, let’s make no bones about it, they use torture. If you want a good interrogation, you send someone to Jordan. If you want them to be killed, you send them to Egypt or Syria. Either way, the US cannot be blamed as it is not doing the work." - Former CIA officer Robert Baer [PDF]
In Part I of this now-five part series, I took care to distinguish the post-9/11 application of torture techniques by the U.S. military from the role played by the CIA and demonstrated how the Bush/Cheney decision to torture predated the quasi-legal Justice Department memos. In Part II, I covered the CIA's dark beginnings, including links not only to former Nazi war criminals but to those Americans who provided financial support to Hitler's Germany, including the late Senator Prescott Bush, George W's paternal grandfather. I also demonstrated how academic studies, performed as part of the CIA's maniacal quest to crack the code of human consciousness, culminated in KUBARK, the CIA's 1963 torture manual. In Part III, I showed how the KUBARK torture techniques, applied by US-trained foreign surrogates, became an essential component of the covert dimension of a US-led corporate Empire --- a means for exerting control over populations resistant to the injustice of a system that values the obscene wealth of a few over the needs of the many.
I had intended this to be the final chapter of a Four-Part Special Series, but length, complexity and new revelations necessitate further division into Parts IV & V.
Here, I will explore the arrogant application of overseas surrogate torture through "extraordinary rendition." The direct application of KUBARK techniques to a "floating population" of "ghost detainees" at CIA black sites will be covered in Part V. In both segments, I will demonstrate how torture was applied not to protect the American people but to help produce doctored intelligence that would provide cover for imperial conquest. I will end with the disturbing yet still unresolved questions as to how many victims of the Bush/Cheney torture regime remain amongst "the disappeared;" how many of those victims are now deceased...
Progressive Democrats of America hosted Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, author of "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam" in Los Angeles on Sunday night at an event moderated by Bree Walker. Video of the entire conversation can be found below broken down into individual Q&A to make each part easily accessible:
The dirty little secret about the "Bush Doctrine" and how the last eight years have "opened up a Pandora's box" (6:53)
American misperceptions about the Muslim community (3:21)
We momentarily interrupt our Election Meltdown '08 coverage to quickly point out that a total of five large undersea Internet cables, leading to various areas of the Middle East, have now reportedly been "cut." The Khaleej Times reports that "An estimated 1.7 million Internet users in the UAE have been affected by the recent undersea cable damage," which, folks who worry about such things note, is in addition to millions of users in Iran.
We noticed the story when three cables were cut last week, but didn't have time to look into it. We still don't. Nor do we pretend to know what it all means.
But as BonnieNet --- who's done some good digging, and has put together a map of the locations of the reported cuts --- says, "3 was quite a few. 4 is pushing it. 5 starts to make you wonder."